Thursday, April 28, 2022

Fake News! Evaluating Online Information

As adults we (hopefully) know that not everything online is true. For our students though, this is a concept they need to learn.

Students can use Google to quickly find millions of websites matching their search request, but are they able to determine which sites actually contain information that is accurate, unbiased, up to date, and written by someone with authority?

Thankfully there are many helpful resources to assist our students (and ourselves) to increase digital literacy. See below for a collection of many of these resources that I have found to be valuable. If you have some favorite resources for evaluating online information, please consider sharing those in the comments at the bottom of the post.

🧰 General Resources

🔗 Fake Websites

Dihydrogen Monoxide
  • One of the oldest and still one of the best, this website provides loads of scientific data on the dangers of a common substance called Dihydrogen Monoxide. 
  • This is a particularly good site for older students as the content is more advanced and the site has a more academic look and feel.

Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
  • This hoax website is easily one of the best looking sites, which goes a long way to making it look credible. 
  • On the site you will learn all about the amazing Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, complete with believable photos, videos, and downloadable plans to build your own tree octopus house.

All About Explorers
  • Students can choose from many explorers and read a detailed, but highly incorrect, biography for each. 
  • The site is specifically educational though as they provide lesson plan activities that have the students compare and contrast the information found on the site with other reputable online sources.

Dog Island
  • Dog Island is a wonderful location where thousands of dogs live natural, healthy, and happy lives. 
  • Be sure to check out the facilities, photos, and see how you can send your dog to this canine paradise.

🖼️ Reverse Image Search

Google Images
  • Do a reverse image search by uploading a picture to Google's Image Search at and find out more information about the picture.

Google Lens
  • Right-click on an image and choose "Search image with Google Lens" to learn more about the picture.

  • Perform a reverse image search on any picture at
  • Then sort the results by various criteria.
  • And compare the results to your original image to see what has been changed.

✅ Fact Checking Tools

Google "Fact Check Tools"

Google "About This Result"
  • Tap the three dots on any search result, click the “more about this page” link to:
  • Learn about the source to get a sense of how they describe themselves, in their own words
  • Learn what others on the web have said about a site, to get a second look
  • Learn additional context about the topic, like top news coverage, to see what a range of sources have to say.
🕹️ Digital Literacy Games

Bad News

  • Factitious is an online quiz game website where students have to determine if articles are fake or not.
  • The current version is the Pandemic edition which features COVID-19 articles.

NewsFeed Defenders
  • In this online game you manage Newsably, a fictional social media site focused on news and information.
  • Maintain the site, grow traffic, and spot fake posts that try to sneak in through hidden ads, viral deception, and false reporting.

🎓 Online Lessons

Be Internet Awesome

Applied Digital Skills
  • Resource Link 
  • In this step-by-step video lesson "Evaluate Credibility of Online Sources" the students determine if a source is credible by using a table of key questions in a document.
  • Learn more about Applied Digital Skills.

Common Sense Education

Civic Online Reasoning
  • The COR curriculum provides free lessons and assessments that help you teach students to evaluate online information that affects them, their communities, and the world.
  • The "Media Literacy Booster Pack" contains free resources on: 
  • evaluating information
  • separating facts and opinions
  • recognizing bias
  • filtering out fake news
  • detecting propaganda
  • uncovering how news is made
  • spotting errors in the news
  • taking charge of your role.

Navigating Digital Information
  • YouTube Playlist 
  • "Crash Course" video series on how to evaluate online information:
  • Examine information using the same skills and questions as fact-checkers
  • Read laterally to learn more about the authority and perspective of sources
  • Evaluate different types of evidence, from videos to infographics
  • Understand how search engines and social media feeds work

Post by Eric Curts
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